Diwali fest as a tool of 'Soft Power'
Nirendra Dev | 07 Nov, 2021
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The move by US lawmakers led by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney from
New York to get a new draft law that would declare Diwali as a federal
holiday is a landmark event of our time.
After Yoga, we now have Diwali - the festival of Light and Sound -- as a symbol of India's Soft Power.
mutual benefits, and strategic significance, not necessarily in that
order, decide foreign policy ball games in the contemporary settings.
Now, it is time to add 'Soft Power' as a major tool. The emphasis is
bigger and more thrustful in the post pandemic era.
realising much, we now know that the world is changing pretty fast. The
'great resignation' saga as witnessed by MNCs is a case in point.
beginners, a Microsoft study says nearly 40 per cent of professionals
are keen to give up their existing jobs in the current calendar year.
Welcome to a new world era wherein the civilisational and cultural
prisms too could prove to be effective tools in the changed world order.
this can be underlined better also in the context of developments in
Afghanistan and some roles played by Pakistan. Religiosity can have a
soothing impact for someone who uses these occasions to gaze in within
oneself. These virtues are appreciated in advanced societies as
materialistic achievements have made people lonely and friendless.
than creating 'segments' like Hindu culture or fest, certain things are
emerging now as a global phenomenon. The timing of Diwali festival in
between autumn and winter is not something to be lost. The light and
sound kill some bacteria in the air - that's for the rational school;
and in pursuing this argument, one knows the problems lay in overdoing
Bursting of firecrackers would have been pleasant and a
tasteful experience had not this become a symbol of showmanship. If
firecrackers are bad for the environment, so is gambling and the
so-called gift-exchange culture of Delhi for human behaviour. Here too,
the problem is in overdoing things; not ordering a blanket ban as a
presumed corrective strategy.
The global recognition by the UN
and ongoing craze for Yoga and a renewed zeal for festivals such as
Deepawali have some messages. Of these, the big picture message is - the
international game can be no longer about pushing a single-agenda item.
power games also means persuasive diplomacy. It may be out of the box,
but not something to be dismissed as out of the blue. Life is often like
standing in the dusk, to use poetic jargon. It is all about optimism.
Optimism leads to patience. The storm would pass off eventually, no
matter how long it is.
This is a major takeaway from oriental
teachings and India's perspectives. That's the essence of India's
civilisational "soft power" strength too. Diwali symbolises glory of
virtues over vices like most festivals and rituals across the globe.
on to another chapter now, there are observers who say that Indians
thrive on self pity and that's why we Indians often continue to curse
ourselves. The polarization of India's intellectual class is so deep
that it is difficult to express an opinion and that would still be
considered an objective one.
If one writes a few lines on Hindu
festivals and oriental traditions and values, he is in danger of being
called a communal! But the fact of life is that some Indian and, for
that matter, Hindu fests have attracted attention and excitement
globally. This has not happened because Indians can influence the
outcome in an US election, this is also because people see merit in some
of these festivals and practices.
The festival of light and
sound which essentially marks the victory of Good over Evil and
Knowledge over Ignorance is being celebrated with religious zeal in
countries such as the UAE, Canada, the African nations and Malaysia. In
many countries, Diwali has made a mark as a festival of share and care.
People also do charity work at orphanages and old age homes.
is worth mentioning that in 2016 in the context of Art of Living's World
Culture Festival in Delhi, none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi
had said, "We (Indians) can make contribution (of India's soft power)
only when we ourselves feel proud of our culture. But if we continue to
curse ourselves, then how will the world look towards us. The world is
not only united by concerns of economic growth, but also by human values
and India can play a vital role in it."
The motive of building a predefined narrative against Hindu fests and practices, if any, has thus fallen flat.
Dev is a New Delhi-based journalist. He is also author of books, 'The
Talking Guns: North East India' and 'Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored
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